The Top 6 Reasons Mobile Home Investing Sucks (and How to Get Around Them)

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Welcome back,

Three weeks ago I was out of the state looking at some investment property to purchase, a mobile home park to be specific. Typically, when I am out of my local area and staying a few nights, I enjoy finding local real estate investor clubs to attend to learn more about the locals and the area in general. I was fortunate enough to attend this group’s monthly meeting and was not disappointed.

Most meetings start off with general chit-chat and networking; this group was no different. While meeting folks and exchanging pleasantries, I discussed that I loved mobile homes and mobile home investments. Most investors were receptive to the idea of investing in mobile homes, but a few immediately expressed their dislike for this niche.

Related: 3 Common (and Costly) Mistakes Mobile Home Investors Make

“Mobiles homes? Mobile homes suck!”

This is what I heard from a middle-aged investor just out of my peripheral view. Whenever I meet an investor who has such strong opinions about an issue and clearly does not want his viewpoint changed, I typically just let that jaded investor think how they wish. My simple response was, “Well they have been super great to me and others I work with. If you ever need any help, let me know.”

After leaving the group that night, I thought about the comment made by this jaded investor and thought, maybe he’s right. From his point of view and his past mobile home experience, if any, this kind of investing probably really did suck for him. I had no way of knowing his past but began to think of all the ways mobile homes can suck as investments for unaware newer MH investors.

Below is a short list of complaints many investors and non-investors can make about these nontraditional homes.

The Top 6 Downfalls of Mobile Home Investing

1. Mobile Homes Depreciate in Value Like a Car

It may come to no surprise to you that mobile homes depreciate in their “blue book” value as soon as they are first sold. Much like a car, a 1988 mobile home will typically be worth a fraction of the cash value of a newer 2008 model mobile home.

This bullet is perhaps the most misunderstood contradiction concerning mobile homes as investments. The reason for the error in this thought process is that as investors we should almost never pay retail prices for any mobile home investment. When purchasing mobile homes, we look for undervalued homes that we can purchase to then resell to very interested buyers to create value.

2. Mobile Homes Can Be Tougher to Insure Than Traditional SFRs

Mobile homes do have fewer options for insurance than most traditional homes. While I say there are fewer options, there still exist many options available if insuring your mobile home is something you wish to do. With that said, all investors should love obstacles.

Investor Insight: Start looking at obstacles as challenges that can be overcome with some clever thinking and brain power. Realize that most other average investors will stop at this point, too. Do not be an average investor! Make sure to not give up until all avenues to get a deal done are exhausted. Over time, this mental problem solving process will become more and more second nature.

3. Mobile Homes Can Be Smelly

Standing water, mold, mildew, cigarette smoke, wild animals and rotten food can all contribute to a mobile home being smelly. Any smell associated with a mobile home is not the fault of this particular mobile home. The fault comes from the previous and/or current owner’s lack of pride in their property. As the old saying goes, “If you smell something bad in a property, it may just be the smell of money.”

4. Mobile Homes May Attract Lower Income Tenant-Buyers Who Don’t Pay

This statement is both true and false, as many of these bullets here are. Some mobile home buyers in ocean-side communities are happily paying $1 million plus for a used mobile home inside a park.

Traditionally, mobile homes are deemed affordable housing because they are. Their inexpensive construction and sometimes minimal features help many low-income buyers afford a safe and clean home of their own.

While mobile homes may oftentimes attract lower income buyers, this does not equate to all lower income buyers or tenants being high-risk occupants. It is always on the investor’s shoulders to screen all buyers, tenants, and renters in any property you fill. If mobile homes were not affordable housing, then this real estate niche would not be in demand by many buyers across the country, and we would likely lose some of our edge as investors.

Investor Insight: After helping folks across the country, this is one of the big faults many new investors have. Properly screening tenant-buyers and tenants is vital. A low-risk tenant with a clean background will likely make your life a breeze with regular on-time monthly payments. A high-risk tenant with a questionable background can result in headache after headache, leaving an obvious bad taste in your month concerning mobile homes. In reality the problem has less to do with the mobile home and everything to do with the tenant inside and your screening process.

5. Mobile Home Sellers and Buyers May Lie

This statement is as true today as it likely was 60 years ago. Additionally, this statement is true in almost every other niche of real estate. As long as humans are involved, some lying and manipulation can be expected from your sellers and buyers.

With that said, it is again on the shoulders of every real estate investor to properly ensure:

  • Every mobile home itself
  • That all current taxes and liens are up to date
  • Every mobile home buyer, tenant-buyer, or renter
  • All past repairs were mad correctly
  • Every mobile home park and park manager
  • Every new city code department for rules and regulations

6. Mobile Homes Are NOT Traditional SFRs

So many things change when you take off your traditional real estate investing hat and put on your mobile home investing hat. As mobile home investors we must know what local buyers and tenants will pay for a mobile home in your area. Know these numbers, and account for them when making your purchase offers to every mobile home seller you speak with.

Related: What to Look for In a Good Mobile Home Investment Deal

Investor insight: Another huge mistake made by newer mobile home investors is paying too much for any single mobile home. A seller who discounts their asking price from $40,000 to $20,000 does NOT necessarily (and very rarely) equal a great deal. More negotiations are likely needed. If you overpay when you purchase, you will lose money or lose profit while selling.


The more and more I learn, the easier it is to see that mobile homes don’t suck; however, an investor’s due diligence and mindset can suck big time. Luckily, this lack of knowledge and experience can be remedied by an experienced local investor willing to help you and of course via the Biggerpockets Forums and articles like this one.

Mobile homes are only a vessel some investors use to create passive wealth. These factory-made homes are as lucrative or money-sucking as you allow them to be. Before jumping into any niche, make sure you fully understand the business, your exit-strategies and its buyers and sellers.

And as always: Love what you do daily.

What do you hate (and love) about mobile home investing? What would you add to this list?

Let us know in the comments!

About Author

John Fedro

Investing since 2002, John started in real estate accidentally with a 4-bedroom mobile home inside of a pre-existing mobile home park. Over the next 11 months, John added 10 more mobile homes to his cash-flowing portfolio. Since these early years, John has gone on to help 150+ sellers and buyers sell their unwanted mobile homes and obtain a safe and affordable manufactured home of their own. Years later, John keeps to what has been successful—buying, fixing, renting, and reselling affordable housing known as mobile homes. John shares his stories, experiences, lessons, and some of the stories of other successful mobile home investors he helps on his blog and YouTube channeland has written over 300 articles concerning mobile homes and mobile home investing for the BiggerPockets Blog. He has also been a featured podcast guest here and on other prominent real estate podcasts, authored a highly-rated book aimed at increasing the happiness/satisfaction of average real estate investors, and spoken to national and international audiences concerning the opportunities and practicality of successfully investing in mobile homes.


    • Hi Kay,

      Thanks for commenting. I too am still learning about mobile home investing as I’ve been active for 12+ years. REI is a never-ending learning process, and that is the great part.

      Concerning the Dodd Frank acts great question. The short answer is we know what the laws and acts say and we avoid violating them. That is obviously a vague answer to your question however earlier this year I held a tele-seminar on the issue that can be found on my blog. Simply type ‘Dodd Frank’ in the search bar and it should pop up.

      Hope this helps and let me know if you have any additional questions.

      Talk soon,

  1. Hey John,
    I completely agree with you. Those who are jaded against mobile homes and parks just make it easier for me. I never try to talk people out of that opinion.
    Thanks for a well-written article. Going to your web site now.

    • Hi Darla,

      Thanks for the kudos and kind words. I am sure we all run into negative people like this. It could have just been a bad day for him or perhaps a bad year but regards I just deflect the comment and didn’t let it affect me. Glad you feel the same. I agree with you, more leads for the rest of us that do see the bigger picture with regards to MH investing.

      Talk soon,

    • Hi,

      I agree the profit margin capability continues to increase as I learn more about this niche. I am completely fine with jaded investors as it will reflect in my bank account.

    • Hi Joseph,

      Yes, I purchase in parks with lot rents all the time. They are great, to me at least.

      Great to hear you are active in this niche too. I am no BP tech expert however if you create your own BP profile it will come with a blog option that you can write in and can get featured here on BP. I hope this helps. Additionally there is a forum here which perhaps you can lend your experience to others.

      All the best,

    • Hi Geoff,

      Thank you for commenting and reading. As always I try to keep it content filled and fun. 🙂 Let me know if you ever have any suggestions on post topics.

      Talk soon,

  2. I know there are ways to profit from investing in mobile homes and it has everything to do with what you stated in your article along with location/geography. Here are some comments from another discussion that were in response to a loan officer asking other loan officers about mobile homes. The last respondent quoted reveals to me a poor understanding about them as an investment:

    1) ‘ have never done one of these, and have an agent asking me about an FHA transaction.
    What do I need to watch out for, and who are the lenders that work with these?’

    2)’Foundation inspection, well & septic inspection (if it’s not on public sewer & water).
    SunWest, AFR, FGMC, CMG are several lenders who will do them. I think Freedom started doing them too.’

    3)’If it is an FHA/Manufactured Home. One of the main things to be aware of is making sure that it is not in a flood zone. If it is in a flood zone than (more than likely) it can’t go FHA. So you will need to get a elevation cert as well as an engineers cert. Those are the two main differences.

    We do Manufactured Homes w/ a 680 and above score.’

    4)’76 or newer doublewide, engineer cert acceptable to FHA (Foundation is very important) no post and pier or ground set. Also watch for additions as they can undermine the structural integrity of the building.’

    5)’Needs to have the HUD Data Plate too. Usually located in a kitchen cabinet. If lost it can be requested.’

    6)’It is comps, comps and comps.

    Added bonus: Odds are very strong the client may have very severe Jerry Springer Gene that will flare up and wreck the deal in the 11th hour.


    Insurance will kick because of the Rottweilers, you name it.

    Those files are a guaranteed smorgasbord of thoroughly infuriating-delirium-inducing-homicidal-rage.

    You will be so disgusted with all things double-wide when you get done with that deal you will not be able to breathe.

    Do yourself a favor and throw that death-file into the fire immediately.

    You can thank me later.

    Make it a Great Day.’:

    Then, a little while later he writes this:

    ‘I hate everything about trailers so deeply and completely it is actually kind of funny.

    I hate the people that sell them.

    I hate the people that install them.

    Utility Companies should give them away for free – furnace is upside down (a pusher) = hamstrung/struggles. Oh but it is aluminum so don’t worry, soon as the sun rises it will be plenty toasty. Like a toaster oven.

    This handy in the summer too. Go snag an industrial grade AC unit from a warehouse or something because you are going to need it.

    Got kids? Well everyday will just seem like Christmas because no internal insulation either!

    Yay that is a drop ceiling!! You can hear every sneeze from every corner all the time!! Isn’t that great!

    Those POS’s from h3ll. Don’t forget to wrap the pipes!!

    Here is one vote for burning them all down.

    Make it a Great Day.’

    In closing, there is a big difference between mobile homes vs. manufactured/pre-fab too (a manufactured/pre-fab home is simply a stick built that is not site built and is indistinguishable from a stick built home, see for examples) Also, location I have found is the biggest difference in investment potential with mobile homes and mobile home parks. What I have found in places such as California and other Western states is creative ways that cities create through their regulations actually make the choice of such a property fairly prohibitive vs. stick built homes therefore mobile home parks are a very small to almost non-existent option for those in the Western States to invest in. If I lived in any of the places where mobile homes were a decent investment option I would be investing in those too.

  3. I never buy in parks, but I have some degree of success buying mobile homes on land. Negotiating now for nice double-wide in three fenced acres Central Florida. Currently rented $675.
    I usually buy to sell.
    If anyone is interested in further details, please let me know.
    I sell for cash, and I also finance, with good down payment.

  4. I am finishing up a flip of a mobile home which will hopefully close this week. It was supposed to be a relative’s project and I was just going to finance it, but he backed out because he had no “skin” in it and he lost interest. It’s been a real pain. Very difficult for the buyers to finance and just as expensive and time-consuming to rehab as a stick-built. For the same amount of work I can make 10X the profit on a stick-built.
    However, I do know people who love mobile homes as rental properties when they own the land as well. These are people who own large tracts of land and own the equipment to develop them and live in areas with little zoning restrictions. If they do the work themselves, they have about as much invested as one would in an apartment (around $40K). Most parks won’t allow renters (unless the park owner owns the home).
    As a side note, I grew up around mobile homes; my great-grandfather was one of the first dealers in Maine and my father just sold his dealership. It’s too bad that there’s so much snobbery about them. They really are a good first step for somebody who wants to be a homeowner.

  5. Thanks for the great article! My question is would you recommend M/H investing to beginning investors or to only more experience investors. Im from upstate New York and there are a lot of mobile home parks compared to other areas.

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